With an SEC series on the line, things started off with a bang Sunday at Founders Park — then didn’t let up the rest of the way as South Carolina baseball jumped on Missouri 13-4 to claim its third conference series win in a row.
On the very first pitch of the rubber match, Mizzou took the lead over the No. 11 Gamecocks and starter Will Sanders when senior Mark Vierling launched a home run to the left field bleachers.
That lead didn’t last long, though, as junior first baseman David Mendham ripped a bases-loaded single to the wall in the bottom of the first to score two runs. Sophomore third baseman Brennan Milone followed in the second with a mammoth two-run home run, his first of the season, to make it 4-1.
USC never trailed again, but there was plenty of drama in the later innings regardless. In the top of the seventh, Vierling was called out on strikes and, disagreeing with the call, traced in the dirt where he thought the ball missed the plate with his bat. That merited an immediate ejection, but it didn’t stop his teammate, junior Joshua Day, from visibly expressing his displeasure when he was also rung up to end the inning.
Day, who had homered in the fourth inning off Sanders, then appeared to engage with some South Carolina fans along the third base line following the end of the seventh inning. Security, event staffers and umpires got involved, and several fans were escorted out of their seats only to return a few batters later, much to the delight of the crowd.
Before the next half-inning, Gamecocks third base coach Stuart Lake acknowledged the fans near the Missouri dugout with a fist pump. That sparked another incident in which a Missouri staffer and Lake exchanged words, leading Lake to move toward the Tigers dugout. The two were separated and umpires warned both team’s head coaches.
All the off-field incidents only served to fire up the South Carolina dugout even more. Up 8-4 going into the bottom of the eighth, the Gamecocks unloaded with a five-run inning in which junior outfielder Brady Allen roped an RBI double, junior outfielder Josiah Sightler had an RBI single and senior outfielder Andrew Eyster homered to blow the contest wide open.
Allen, Sightler and Eyster each posted mult-hit games, with Eyster recording three RBIs as well. Sophomore catcher Colin Burgess also had multiple hits and recorded two RBIs, while Mendham had three RBIs. The bottom five hitters in USC’s lineup accounted for seven of 13 hits and 10 of 13 RBIs.
NEXT USC BASEBALL GAME
Who: No. 11 South Carolina vs. Charleston Southern
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Founders Park
Watch: Streaming online on SEC Network Plus via WatchESPN